"MAY I" or "MUST I"?


1. In many ways the religion of the Old Testament was a system of prescription.

2. By this is meant that there were regulations prescribed that pertained to almost every aspect of a man's religious life.

3. In almost every service, the exact amount, etc. was prescribed in detail.

4. For instance, how much grain for a grain offering; how much wine for a drink offering; how to calculate the tithe, etc.

5. But in a few things, God did not specify how much.

A. Such fascinated the Jewish rabbis, so they carefully catalogued these few things.

B. They would say such things as: "These things have no exact measure: the corner of the field which is to be left to the needy, the first fruit, voluntary festival sacrifices, charity, and study."


A. He could do like most people of today do, and try to do just enough "to get by."

B. Or, if he was a very faithful Jew; as there are very faithful Christians today, he would try to do just as much as possible of these things.

1. In observing these two choices, one saw God's lack of exact specification as an excuse to do as little as possible.

a. The other saw it as an opportunity to show his love for God by doing as much as possible.


A. I have brought all this to your attention because I believe it will help us understand what our attitude ought to be in the things God requires of us under the New Testament.

1. For things required of us under the New Covenant are almost entirely "things that have no exact measure."

2. In contrast to the Old Testament, God hardly ever tells us exactly how much of anything we are required to do in the New Testament.

a. For example, we are no longer told to tithe, we are simply told to give "as we have prospered."

B. We have exactly the same alternatives before us that the Israelites had.

1. We can use the fact tht God has not specified exactly how much as an excuse to do just as little as possible.

2. Or we can use it as an opportunity to do just as much as we possibly can.

a. This first alternative is that of spiritual immaturity and weakness.

b. The second is a demonstration of the type of maturity God expects from His people today.

C. I believe the concept of spiritual maturity is the key to the difference between the Old Testament and the New Testament.

1. In many respects, the law of Moses served as a sort of set of spiritual training wheels for God's people.

a. Just as a parent trains an immature child by specifying exactly the many things he needs to do, so God trained the israelites by specifying exactly how much religious service to perform.

2. But the wise parent does not intend to have to keep specifying to his child forever.

a. Eventually, the child should reach a state of sufficient maturity to make his own judgments about how much is good for him.

b. So also God did not intend to have to keep specifying to His children forever.

3. Now that God has made a full revelation of His purposes to us in the New Testament, He expects us to be able to respond with a spiritual maturity that was not possible under the Old Testament.

a. We should no longer have to ask, "How much is enough?"

b. We should have progressed beyond the point where we need God to specify the "exact measure" for all our service.

1) Whether that service be in the realm of: Giving, Prayer, Study, Attendance, or anything else.

4. We will need to be careful tht we do not return to an attitude that demands an "exact measure" for every- thing so we will know just how much is necessary to GET BY.


A. In Rom. 12:1, Paul instructs us to "present our bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service."

1. Stop and think!! This seems to be a strange verse of scripture doesn't it?!!

a. Because the Bible teaches us that we are saved by the sacrifice of the body of Jesus, which was offered once for all. Heb. 10:10.

b. And if that is so, how can Paul here ask us to present our own bodies as sacrifices?

B. The answer to this question is found in the Old Testament.

1. When we turn to the Book of Leviticus, we find that there were many different kinds of sacrifices offered by the Israelites.

2. But nearly all of those sacrifices fell into one of two categories.

a. The first category is composed of all those sacrifices which were offered to obtain the forgiveness of sins.

1) These were sometimes called propitiatory sacrifices.

2) Such sacrifices were the sin-offerning, the trespass offering, and the yearly atonement offernng.

b. The second category is composed of all those sacrifices which were offered after sins had been forgiven.

1) These were offerings that were made in thanksgiving to God for His mercy and blessings.

2) Frequently they were made in thanksgiving for forgiveness of sins.

3) Such offerings were called thank-offerings, peace-offerings, and free-will offerings.

C. Now the sacrifice offered by Jesus supplied us with the first category.

1. He is the one who offered His own body once for all to obtain the forgiveness of our sins.

2. It was His blood that was shed for a propitiation for our sins, Rom. 3:25; 1 Jno. 2:1,2.

3. Jesus offered this sacrifice for us because we could never have offered it for ourselves.

4. Our bodies were too stained with sin to ever be an acceptable sacrifice for the cleansing of sin.

5. So God gave us the unblemished body of His only begotten Son to us instead.

D. But we must still offer the second category of sacrifice for ourselves.

1. As a thank-offering for the mercy and love with which God has blessed us, we are instructed to present OUR bodies as living sacrifices.

2. No sacrifice of our bodies could ever be worthy to abtain the forgiveness of sins.

a. But thanks be to God that He was willing to give His Son for us.

b. So, the very least that we can do is to return our own bodies, worthless thought they may be, in thanksgiving.

E. But notice, also, that most of the thank-offerings in the Old Testament were whole burnt offerings.

1. The body of the sacrificial animal was totally consumed upon the altar.

a. So also, we shoud offer our bodies to God to be totally consumed in His service.

b. Any holding back on our part bespeaks an attitude of ingratitude and makes the sacrifice incomplete.

c. We would thereby become like the Jew that would want to offer only one leg of the lamb and keep the rest for himself.

F. Finally, Paul instructs us to present our bodies as LIVING sacrifices.

1. We are to be DEAD to sin, but ALIVE to Christ. Rom. 6:11.

a. And in so living, we are to present the members of our bodies as instruments of righteousness unto God. Rom. 6:13.

b. God does not want dead carcasses for sacrifices.

c. Under the Old Testament law, offering a dead animal would have profaned the altar.

d. So also, dead Christians profane the church.


1. Let us once again read Rom. 12:1,2.

2. Now, after this study, is it a matter of "MUST I" or "MAY I"? with you? Give it some serious thought.

Return to the Sermon Outlines page